Jul 13, 2017, 2:44 AM
Grazing management is the science and art of manipulating grazing animals and the pastureland upon which they feed. The effects of grazing management on both land and animals will be good or bad depending on the knowledge and skill of the manager. In the short run, it is possible to increase animal production at the cost of damaging the land just as it is possible to improve the land at the expense of the animals. An area may be overstocked and for a short time thus increase the pounds of animal produced per acre. If all or most of the animals are removed, for a short time an area will produce more pounds of forage per acre. Neither option, however, is viable if the goal is to promote a profitable and sustainable operation. In the long run, a program must address the needs of all members of the plant- soil- animal- complex if it is to be both financially and ecologically sound. If we can orient our thinking to the long-term effects of our management practices, it becomes easier to make the good decisions that will bring about a stable and healthy operation. In order to make sound decisions, it is necessary to have both knowledge and information. Information is facts that are relevant to our task and knowledge is the ability to make use of these facts to promote the desired results. One of the hardest concepts for most ranchers to grasp is that rather than being in the "cattle business” or the "sheep business” or even in the "grass business" they are really in the solar energy business. All production requires the input of energy. Whether the product is steel, meat or great literature energy is required to fuel the process of creation. The true source of this energy is always the same. Sunlight, Coal and petroleum are merely fossilized sunlight that was harvested eons ago by green plants using the same process that green plants use today to convert solar energy to biological energy. Nitpickers might argue, correctly, that sunlight is actually one form of nuclear energy. The fact remains that for millions of years and for the foreseeable future, sunlight is by far the most significant source of energy available to the earth. All life depends upon photosynthesis, the process by which green plants convert sunlight to biological energy. Even those organisms that spend their lives beneath the soil surface or at the bottom of the ocean derive their substance from materials whose energy originated as sunlight. The success or failure of farmers, ranchers and other land managers of all kinds depends upon how wisely and well they make use of this process. The success or failure of these land managers will ultimately decide the success or failure of humanity and the earth, as we know it.